Lehigh Mountain Hawks sophomore singles and doubles player George Cooper posed on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, at Ulrich Varsity Courts. Cooper was named Scholar Athlete of the Year at the end of season banquet. (Allison LaBeau/B&W Staff)

Acing exams and opponents: George Cooper balances CSB and tennis

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Computer science and business major. Fraternity member. Student athlete.

Many students at Lehigh can make the time to be one of these things, some can manage two and few manage to maintain all three obligations.

Sophomore George Cooper has embraced the challenge, playing first singles and doubles on the Lehigh men’s tennis team while getting his degree in CSB.

“I knew that I wanted to go to a school that I could play tennis at and make an impact on the team while continuing to develop as a player and as an athlete,” Cooper said. “But I also wanted to find a school that had the academics I was looking for, which was computer science and some sort of business background.”

In the end he said he chose Lehigh for its combination of athletics and its unique CBS program.

The combination doesn’t leave Cooper with a lot of free time. He said tennis is a 20-30 hour time commitment each week, and Lehigh’s CSB program requires more credits to graduate than the average Lehigh program. His busy schedule requires him to take advantage of the small windows of free time he has throughout the day.

Cooper’s teammates and coaches can only be impressed by his dedication and involvement.

“Seeing him be in CSB and also in a fraternity and then he’s playing No. 1 for us right now is pretty incredible,” freshman Jack Martin-Dyer said. “So power to him, I don’t know how he does it.”

Martin-Dyer said Cooper is one of the most outspoken guys on the team and always has new ideas for how to improve both the team and himself. He said Cooper takes notes on how to help the team improve and puts in extra hours to make sure he’s living up to his potential.

“He’s kind of like a sponge,” coach Wouter Hendrix said. “He picks up on a lot of different ideas to help motivate his peers and how to set the bar high for everyone else.”

Martin-Dyer also said he brings a lot of energy and turns into a different person on the court.

Assistant coach Sarah Short said Cooper is an excellent teammate and leader, and that he always has a team-first mindset.

“(Cooper) has a great head on his shoulders,” Hendrix said. “(Cooper) is the kind of kid you want on your team. He brings a lot of leadership, he brings a lot of great energy. He’s always positive, he’s always trying to improve himself.”

Hendrix also said Cooper is outstanding in the classroom and has close to a perfect GPA.

Cooper’s dedication paid off last year when he won the team’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. He said seeing his teammates win awards was a cool experience, but he never expected to take home an award, and that was exciting for him.

Cooper set goals for himself as well as his teammates to continue to improve this season.

“On the courts, I think that we have a really good opportunity to win the Patriot League Championship this year,” Cooper said. “I’m really looking forward to trying to be the best player I can be for the team and trying to help the team out and the other guys as much as I can so they can be the best players they can be.”

Looking forward, Cooper said he is excited for the matchups against Navy, the team Lehigh lost to in the Patriot League Tournament last year, and University of Southern California.

Martin-Dyer said because of his relationship with the coach’s son, Cooper had a hand in putting together the matchup against USC, which will be more personal than most matches for Cooper.

“This is actually a really cool experience for me because it’s kind of like a homecoming for me,” Cooper said. “I went to high school in (Los Angeles) and my coach was Peter Smith who’s actually the head coach for USC. My best friend in high school plays for the USC team and I pretty much grew up with the entire USC team.”

Lehigh plays USC over spring break on March 14.

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